Fears

You know, it’s probably a terrible idea to list my phobias and fears out for the internet to see. BUT I’M GOING TO DO IT. Because I like making bad decisions. They’re fun. And most of my phobias are probably hard to recreate unless I’m actually a Sim, in which case… I’m probably already destined for some bad times.

Anyway. Everyone’s afraid of something, aren’t they? If they’re not, I’d like to meet them, because they must be exceedingly brave. …Or they’re a sociopath, in which case, mmm maybe not.

Some of my fears are serious, some are silly, and some are fairly bizarre.

Find a happy place, find a happy place!

Find a happy place, find a happy place!

1.Driving in the snow
Maybe it’s the feeling of my car wanting to end my life prematurely. Maybe it was the time my mom and I saw a tractor-trailer jackknife and flip over on the highway in front of us. I get really freaked out about driving on icy, snowy roads. Which is why I terribly would like to live either a place where I don’t have to drive or one where I don’t have to deal with winter.

2. Jellyfish
Bleah. Oh gosh. I can’t even think about jellyfish too much. I’m always tempted to fast-forward through that section of Finding Nemo. They’re just gross and look like they shouldn’t exist and then there are the really deadly ones in Australia. But then again, pretty much everything is deadly in Australia. I live in fear of going in the ocean and having one brush up against my leg with its feelers. Something about them is really squelchy and icky, just like the word…

3. Moist
I just shuddered typing that and hearing it in my head. Ugh. Let’s move on. 

4. Being trapped/stuck somewhere
My nightmares all follow a common theme, ever since I was little. Generally I’m stuck in some sort of dystopian world and can’t escape, or I’m lost and kind find my way out. When I was little, there was one nightmare where an evil witch destroyed my home and so my family was moving to a new home but I couldn’t find them or keep up. A funny variation on this nightmare was during high school, I dreamt that my best friend’s mom thought I was my friend and locked me in a pantry and wouldn’t let me out. (Don’t ask). But this translates to real life too. I don’t like being stuck, physically or metaphorically.

5. Obesity
No, I’m not afraid of fat people. I’m afraid of succumbing to the average American prototype. So I work out like a hamster on a wheel. I find exercise to be restorative, both mentally and physically, but I also am afraid of the possibility becoming so unhealthy that my quality of life is impacted. When I think about how sedentary my life is as a grownup, I get itchy and need to go run off some steam. 

6. Dummies/ventriloquist dolls
Or any sort of uncanny valley type toy too. My brother was given a furby one year when we were little. I dismantled that vassal of Satan and locked it up in a trunk AND IT STILL MADE NOISE AND GIGGLED TO ITSELF. Pure evil, man. Stuff of nightmares. 

7. Space
No, seriously. I’m really afraid of space. I like it on a conceptual level. I love Star Wars and Doctor Who and Futurama. But… the people who first signed up to be astronauts had to be some crazy, crazy people. Beyond that, thinking about space in any seriousness overwhelms my brain, especially the whole sun exploding bit, and gives me an existential crisis for a while. Then I need to usually distract myself with Tumblr. 

8. Mediocrity/banality
The immortal enemy of any perfectionist. 

9. Gunk in the sink
Oh my god. I can’t. That’s the one chore I can’t do. I have done some pretty gross things. I have cleaned up a friend’s vomit, plunged toilets, changed diapers, collected dog urine to test it for ketones, unclogged my college bathroom shower (clogged with someone else’s hair, no less). But I cannot, cannot deal with bits of old food in the sink. Especially, like in my house, where people put utensils that have pet food still on them in the sink without rinsing them. Omg. A clogged sink is my nightmare. 

10. Daddy Long-Legs
They disturb me on a deep, emotional level. Like jellyfish, they also seem like they shouldn’t exist. Honestly, I don’t care about your regular variety of spiders, but daddy long-legs are just wrong. They’re like orange floating dots with spindly lines for legs and they move and they want to kill you but they can’t because our skin is too thick. Creepy little buggers.

Anyway. Now that I’ve listed my most bizarre fears, I need to go watch videos of pugs or turtles eating strawberries to get these visions out of my mind.

Love always,
Gabriele

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Inspiration 01.25.15

It seems like New York is trying to slip in as many blizzards as possible before January ends. My phone is going crazy with alerts about the two feet of snow we’ll be buried in by Tuesday… hopefully it just sprinkles. Today I managed to stave off the cabin fever at a company book panel featuring six authors and a publisher! It was fun to get out and hear their stories, both their life stories and the fictional ones!

Here are some links while we’re snowed in!

  1. Did you hear about Human of New York’s incredible campaign for impoverished kids?
  2. One of my absolute favorite bloggers just celebrated her tenth wedding anniversary… I love that she went to the same Vegas chapel they got married in for their renewal!
  3. Could you go 40 days without being mean?
  4. The secrets of Amazon are mind-boggling, even for those who work there
  5. What happens if you decide to confront the men who catcall you… I’m tempted
  6. Salted chocolate truffles? Yum, I’ll make some of these!
  7. Have you heard about the “Sure, Jan” meme? Here’s what the actress has to say about it

Have a joyous week.

Love always,
Gabriele

My Unofficial Resume

I believe everyone should have to work a retail or service job at least once in their lives. It teaches you to be a better person. So you don’t end up like the lady who came into Williams Sonoma, stood by herself in a corner in the back of the store for five minutes, and then started screaming, literally screaming that no one was helping her. I was like, lady, I don’t even work here.

Or just like any of those other people who clearly failed preschool and didn’t learn how to be polite, functional members of society.

Luckily for me, I have done several of these sort of jobs.

Read on for why I was dressed like this!

Read on for why I was dressed like this!

My first ‘real’ job was at a nail salon in my town that has now closed. I worked at children’s parties at the salon, where I was paid under the table because pesky child labor laws don’t let you work until you’re 14 in my state. We gave the little girls mini-facials, manicures, and pedicures. After, we tarted them up like beauty queen contestants with make-up from a wide pallet of eyeshadows/lip-glosses. Just to bring it back down to a child’s level, at the end, we spun them around in a chair and sprinkled them with glitter aka fairy dust. It’s a testament to my town that some of these kids, 4 years old at most, would demand, “Just buff my nails, no polish”, or “Oh, I want a French”.

The best part of that job was getting to eat leftover cake. Even if I did always leave covered in more glitter than a Las Vegas showgirl.

I was a hostess at my local pizzeria for a brief stint. The customers were nice enough but man, the other employees. Most of the waiters and waitresses were fine. Most. There’s one story that’s totally unrepeatable for this blog, or even for, well life. But it goes along the line of the other experiences of the manager and one waiter creeping on us hostesses although we were only sixteen and seventeen. Eww.

I was a camp counselor for five summers, which comes with its own slew of stories. As a head counselor for two of those, and assistant head for another, there was a lot of drama that ended up at my feet. The girl who bit off the tip of her tongue diving into the swimming pool. The boy who had mental handicaps that his parents neglected to tell us about, and just casually walked into the 12-foot deep section of the pool without knowing how to swim. And the lifeguards weren’t paying attention so one of my counselors dove in and scooped him out.

The kid that brought a knife on a field trip. He threatened the trip director with it when she wouldn’t give him more tokens for games. And when his mother was called in, she asked us why we were handing out knives at camp. Right, lady. It was our knife, sure. Then there was the Magic guy we had to fire for taking pictures of the kids. The pool director who was likely a Nazi in a past life and used to shout at kids until they cried if they wanted to get out of the pool. Of course, there were good kids there too, amazing kids and that’s what kept me there for five years.

During one of those summers, I did a job promotional modeling where I handed out sprigs of lavender and coupons at the mall, while wearing a beret. I had to affect a fake French accent and I was uh… pretty terrible. And then for a couple of years, I was a brand ambassador for Nespresso, which was pretty amazing and fun. Luckily, working out of higher-end stores spared me from most of the crazies.

Babysitting too, should count toward my humbling life experiences. Beyond changing diapers and negotiating bedtimes, there were some truly trying times. But dealing with tyrannical toddlers has prepared for life in the real world. When else will I have to scurry after a four-year-old who doesn’t want to go to bed? Drag up him the staircase as he tries to hold onto the bannister? Or, there was the seven-year-old whose idea of playing lacrosse was lobbing balls at me and hitting me in the shins. Or the kids who played “real-life fruit ninja”, in which they wielded a knife and attempted to stab at fruit they tossed in the air. (I loved those last ones though! They were awesome, just gave me a heart attack with the keenness for weaponry).

Ahh… Good times, good times. These jobs were some great training for being human. They taught me quick thinking, and negotiation, and how truly, deeply crazy some people are.

Love always,
Gabriele

Inspiration 01.18.15

Halfway through January! What does that mean? Well, we can all stuff our faces with the pink and red chocolates they’re selling at CVS and RiteAid right now (oh, you’re supposed to give those to other people? But… they’re too yummy to share). For just a bit longer, you can use your porch as a refrigerator and enjoy wearing six layers when you go outside (enjoy = loathe in this particular sentence).

And you can get psyched for the Oscars! Maybe. I haven’t seen a single one of the best picture nominations this year. I’ll watch regardless, if just for Neil Patrick Harris being adorkable.

If you’re not glued to the screen to catch up on the nominations, enjoy these links!

  1. I really miss donuts. I have to attempt these gorgeous gluten-free powdered ones!
  2. A mere commoner went to the Golden Globes and fills us in
  3. Pop culture pillows are perfect for my fantasy future home
  4. Little rules for making your life a little saner
  5. How the male to female ratio in cities has an effect on the dating atmosphere
  6. Awwww, nerdy wedding in Portland!
  7. I kind of want to do this foot peel. It’s gross in the best possible way

Have a fancy, fearless, fabulous week.

Love always,
Gabriele

Reasons to Go to Iceland. Now.

Right now, I’m battling serious cabin fever and trying to plan my next trip! It’s making me reflect about my first trip, too, and all the amazing places I saw. Upon graduating college, I decided I just had to go abroad before beginning a life of corporate servitude. So a few months before, I looked online for the cheapest flight to Europe, which led me to a flight to Reykjavik for $250. With a final click and total disregard for making a logical decision, it was set. I was going to Iceland.

Before I left, I hardly knew anything about the island nation. It was cold there, right? And… there were reindeer maybe? After my time there, I can’t wait to go back. Here’s why you need to go too.

My lovely safari buddy, Jes and I, staying warm in Iceland!

My lovely safari buddy, Jes and I, staying warm in Iceland!

The People
There is virtually no crime in Iceland. Generally, Icelanders are down-to-earth, friendly people. It’s pretty cool also, how their naming conventions work. If your father’s name is Robert, you would either be Hans Robertsson or Hana Robertsdottir. Nearly everyone knows each other. The hostel I stayed at (Bus Hostel) was run by a group of kind, awesome, fun people, who barbecued traditional Icelandic food for us, and came along to an impromptu viking wedding.

The Beauty
From the moment your plane touches down in Keflavik Airport, you’re transported to another planet. The ground is warbled, frozen lava covered in moss that has taken hundreds of years to grow. Aside from that, there’s a glacier you can visit (and where all the drinking water comes from). Oh, and two waterfalls, and a spouting geyser. And plenty of fluffy sheep and adorable hairy horses that only live in Iceland.

But nature itself isn’t the only beauty there. Reykjavik is dotted with colorful Scandinavian buildings in all the colors of the rainbow. Even the graffiti is pretty. Downtown Reykjavik is full of artsy shops and restaurants. There’s a stunning grey church in the center of the city that stretches up into the heavens, Hallgrímskirkja, made to resemble basalt lava flows. Man. American churches need to step up their game.

The Nightlife
I learned exactly two words when I was in Iceland, “Skaal!’ and “Takk!” What do these mean? Drink! And thank you! There you are. You have everything you need to know to get by in Iceland. This is especially fun in summer, when the sun only sets for an hour or so, and it never really gets dark. You’ll think it’s maybe 9 pm when you get outside. Hah. Just kidding, it’s 4 am. Stumble back to your hostel, you crazy kid.

Penis Museum
Yes. This exists.

The Northern Lights
Come in winter and even though you’ll be freezing your toes off, you can at least die happy knowing you’ve seen Aurora Borealis, the beautiful natural phenomena that ripples across the arctic sky.

or… The Summer Solstice
Fun fact. You can drive along the perimeter of the entire country in one day. Many people attempt to do this on the summer solstice, which is the one day of the year that the sun doesn’t set below the horizon. Still, leave your shorts at home. Iceland only gets into the 50s (Fahrenheit) during the summer. You’ll at least need a light jacket. If you’re continuing to the rest of Europe, this is the time to get creative with your packing.

The Hot Springs
How do you think they survive those winters otherwise? Instead of going to your local Starbucks to catch up, Icelanders head to the nearest hot spring, which are municipal and wonderfully cheap. But, if you feel like being pampered, grab a bus to the Blue Lagoon. The water is a pale, milky blue that’s out of this world. Your body disappears beneath the surface of the almost glowing water.

The Viking Festival was my favorite! I snagged a little miniature of this cool guy

The Viking Festival was my favorite! I snagged a little miniature of this cool guy

The Vikings
Okay, so there aren’t really actual Vikings in Iceland. But there is at least one Viking priest who I saw do an awesome wedding. And a Viking festival every year in Hafnarfjordur, which totally beats the local Renaissance Faire. If watching a bunch of people dressed up like Vikings bludgeoning each other isn’t fun, I don’t  know what is.

Cash, no, credit is king
You’ll be hard pressed to find a place in Iceland that doesn’t accept credit cards. The taxis all accept credit cards, the restaurants, even the little hot dog stand. This is great, so you don’t have to worry about exchanging your money. Though, definitely get your hands on some Icelandic krona to take home as souvenirs!

The Hot Dog stand
Yes, for a country where you can try whale, puffin, lamb, or any other Icelandic traditional food, I am advising you to dine at Iceland’s famous hot dog eatery, Baejarins Beztu Pylsur. This is likely the only time in your life where you’ll have hot dogs made partially with lamb, topped with fried onions, ketchup, sweet relish, and mustard. This is a favorite spot of local Icelanders, and even Bill Clinton has indulged. You will be eating the same hot dog the president ate. In Iceland.

So what do you think? Ready to head over and get your inner viking on? Iceland’s waiting. Take me with you, too.

Love always,
Gabriele

Inspiration 01.11.15

Quiet week. But isn’t that what the lull of winter is about, giving us time to reflect and focus on what’s important? Especially when we’re still less than two weeks into the new year! Winter does lend itself to some of my quieter hobbies too, like baking. I tried making cinnamon buns today from Pillsbury Pie/Pastry gluten-free dough, but um, it ended up more like cinnamon rugelach than pillowy, yummy, divine cinnamon goodness. Oh well! Guess no one’s come up with frozen GF puff-pastry yet.

These links are a good distraction from my crunchy cinnamon failure.

  1. Being stuck inside is also a good time for some random mad science! (Not just the old baking soda and vinegar volcano, either)
  2. Nerdy proposals that pay homage to my favorite time traveler are adorable
  3. These melty snowman cookies might be hard for me to mess up
  4. How to save money in every part of your budget–perfect for those 2015 resolutions!
  5. Haha, love this! A teenager’s view on the different social media platforms
  6. Whoa, take me back to the aughts and my middle school years. I love this retroactive review of Gwen Stefani’s LAMB album
  7. What do people all over the world eat? The New York Times takes a look

Have a fancy, fierce, fabulous week.

Love always,
Gabriele

The Mysterious Phone Case

Life is full of mysteries. Sure, there are the big mysteries, like what is the meaning of life, why does everything that tastes good have to be bad for you, and why does it always rain when I wear my purple boots? But then there are the little mysteries. The ones that seem like they should have some clear, logical answer.

And instead, you find yourself staring straight on into your own version of the Twilight Zone.

A few weeks ago, I was about to drive to one of our offices, and I checked the backseat of my car to make sure it was clean. There was a phone case leaning up in the backseat. Okay, that was weird. It must’ve fallen out of my friend’s bag from the weekend.

Except the case was for a Samsung Galaxy. And neither of us, nor no one we know, has that phone. So I texted my friend and asked her if it was hers, anyway. Maybe it was a Christmas gift? Nope.

I quickly asked the other two people who had been in my car in the past several months. Nope.

My car is ALWAYS locked. So where did this phone case, the most random of objects, come from?

Feathers properly ruffled by this mystery, I headed to work. Where, shortly after, one of the interns arrived. He pulled his phone out of his bag, and mentioned he really needed to get a case for it.

And what type of phone did he have? A Samsung Galaxy. And the case (a nice case, mind you) fit perfectly. He got to keep the case. What else would I have done with it?

I still have no clue to where this phone case came from. Maybe it was Santa or gremlins or Jesus upgraded to an iPhone and decided to leave the other one behind, in my car of all places. It’s just an unanswered question that I don’t think I’ll ever have the answer to. I think maybe one day, we’ll find out that there are strange laws of oddity or improbability, alà Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Or maybe it’s better we don’t know, like the quote from the books go:

“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. 

There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

But still. These mysteries and coincidences happen often enough that they leave cause for wonder. Like, how after five years, I randomly run into my freshman year roommate at a bar in the city, when there are countless bars and neither of us live near that particular one.

Or when I met a guy at a hostel, and while he could have been from any of the places in the world, his dad happened to work in my teensy tiny town. Weird.

Similarly, six degrees of separation is another thing that sometimes is so bizarre. On Facebook, you friend someone you met randomly, maybe someone you met in a completely different city across the globe, and then you see you have mutual friends in common. But the weirdest, most random mutual friends, like the kid that pulled your hair in preschool.

Or when the people I met eloping in an Icelandic viking wedding ended up being married by a super cool guy who happened to have been nominated for an Oscar.

But these aren’t mysteries, so much as coincidences. Still, they add a little oddness to life, a little jolt or jarring that feels a bit Truman Show. I think I’d enjoy a few more mysteries maybe, as long as they’re pleasant or harmless ones, like the phone case (unless the gremlins or Santa or Jesus or whoever decides they want it back).

Maybe the heavens can send a winning lottery ticket my way. You never know.

Love always,
Gabriele